Human-like robot R2 features a head, torso, arms and hands which can work with tools just like NASA astronauts

General Motors has teamed up with NASA to create the US space agency's first human-like robot astronaut.

The Robonaut 2, or R2, will be sent to the International Space Station aboard the space shuttle Discovery on a mission later this year. Once there, the R2 will take up residency inside the station's Destiny laboratory so that NASA astronauts and scientists can study the robot's effectiveness in space.

The R2 is made up of a human-like head and torso with arms and hands and weighs 300 lbs (136 kg). The robot is highly dexterous and can work with tools just like a human.

GM said it plans to use technology developed from the R2 in its manufacturing processes - technologies such as sensory applications for vision and motion to assist assembly workers.

"The work done by GM and NASA engineers also will help us validate manufacturing technologies that will improve the health and safety of our GM team members," said GM vice president for global research and development Alan Taub.

The shuttle Discovery's STS-133 mission is scheduled for lift-off in September.


GM - NASA Robonaut headed for International Space Station end of 2010